|Jets vs. Dolphins: Throw out the records - please|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 29 November 2007 13:12|
The matchup between New York and New York's favorite playground, Miami, was once known for crazy games, crazier fans and colorful quotes. But Sunday's renewal of a rivalry stuck in reverse is significant only due to issues of ineptitude.
A victory by the Dolphins would ensure they avoid the first 0-16 season in NFL history. A loss by the Jets would keep them in contention for the No. 1 draft choice in April.
``The rivalry has probably lost a little luster over the years,'' said Miami's Jason Taylor, who has played against the Jets 21 times. ``I don't care about it. I just want to get a win, no matter who it is.''
As the saying goes, when the Dolphins play the Jets, throw out the records. Please. Both teams would be grateful.
New York is tied for the second-worst record in the NFL at 2-9, and one of those wins warrants an asterisk because it came against Miami.
The Jets are so bad they're underdogs even though the Dolphins are 0-11 and have lost a franchise-record 14 consecutive games.
``Just because they're 0-11,'' New York defensive end David Bowens said, ``doesn't mean they aren't a good team.''
The comment underscores the sad state of the rivalry: The teams strain to say nice things about each other, probably out of pity.
``We wish we would have more at stake when we play,'' Jets receiver Laveranues Coles said. ``But it's two losing teams right now.''
Even so, the game is a sellout, with plenty of transplanted New Yorkers expected to attend.
``It's going to be a 50-50 crowd, if not worse,'' Miami linebacker Channing Crowder said. ``Hopefully we can shut them up, because they are obnoxious.''
New York is coming off a 34-3 loss at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. The Dolphins lost in a quagmire Monday night at Pittsburgh on a last-minute field goal, 3-0.
For years, Jets-Dolphins was a glitzy game. In the late '80s, when Marino and O'Brien traded touchdown passes, the series produced such scores as 37-31, 38-34 and 40-33. In 2000, the Jets overcame a 30-7 deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Miami 40-37 on a memorable Monday night.
The series produced fewer thrills in recent years. The Jets have won 15 of the past 19 meetings, six of the past seven and three in a row, and there's little bad blood.
``A lot of guys in this locker room are young and don't understand the whole rivalry thing,'' Taylor said.
Still, the Dolphins tried to stir things up this week, if only for old times' sake.
``All you have to tell me is we don't like them, and the rivalry has already started,'' said linebacker Joey Porter, in his first year with Miami. ``It shouldn't matter what the records are if you truly don't like somebody. You want to beat them. Whether we're 11-1 and 10-2, or 0-11 and 2-9, a rivalry is a rivalry.''
With both teams ravaged by injuries, there have been a lot of lineup changes since the Jets beat the Dolphins 31-28 in September. Ronnie Brown, Chris Chambers and Jonathan Vilma are among those who will be missing. And both teams have new, young starters struggling at quarterback.
The Jets' Kellen Clemens will make his fifth start of the season. He's the lowest-rated quarterback with more than 140 pass attempts, and he has thrown only three touchdown passes with six interceptions.
Dolphins rookie John Beck has failed to lead the offense to a point in two starts, but coach Cam Cameron said he detects progress by the second-round draft pick.
``There are a lot of those things that he's seeing for the first time at game speed,'' Cameron said. ``It's interesting to watch how he handles different situations. He's growing kind of like you would hope he would. He has a long way to go, and offensively we've got to get back to playing the way we played the early part of the season.''
The offense was productive at times early in the year, but the Dolphins lost running back Brown and quarterback Trent Green to season-ending injuries, and they traded top receiver Chambers. Miami hoped for a boost from 2002 NFL rushing champion Ricky Williams, who returned Monday after serving a 1 1/2-year suspension, but he was sidelined for the season by a chest injury after only six carries.
The Jets have been dreadfully well balanced, ranking third worst in the league on both offense and defense, but it's a thin line in the NFL between terrible and merely bad. The Jets have lost five games by a touchdown or less. The Dolphins have lost six games by three points.
``It comes down to a handful of plays,'' New York coach Eric Mangini said. ``We've both experienced being on the wrong end of those handful of plays.''
On Sunday, in the 85th meeting between the Jets and Dolphins, the outcome will hinge on who's worse.
AP Sports Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. in New York contributed to this report.